Saturday, January 2, 2016

Taking it to the Next Level, Vol. 3: Top 10 Myths of Climbing the Hockey Ladder

Top 10 Myths of Climbing the Hockey Ladder

by Steve McKichan, FuturePro Goaltending

Every brain surgeon and beer bellied “expert” (holding a Timmy’s Triple/Triple) you run into around the rink will undoubtedly have it all figured out. They will tell you exactly how so and so got drafted and likely they will add in everything they taught them. Old wives’ tales, myths and falsehoods will never benefit innocent unknowing parents who may believe things they hear about the hockey ladder and how it applies to their little rosebud.
  1. “My top AAA goalie has signed up for this great scouting service and they know all the scouts and coaches at the next level. In fact, they did this awesome highlight pack of my son. The scouts will LOVE it!"
    College scouts, junior scouts and NHL scouts were not born yesterday and “know” when a service is pumping the tires of their stable. Of course, they also know that highlight tapes are like profile pictures on a dating website.

    REAL scouts listen to REAL hockey people who have played NHL, college and Major Junior. And even then they will still do independent verification
  2. “If my kid stands on his head when the scout is there they will notice him!”

    Scouts will notice random great performances but will never base a projection on a kid without seeing it repeated many times and with the requisite long term stats to back it up. So if your kid rips it up one night but only plays great 5 out ten games and has average stats he should polish up his resume for Best Buy.
  3. “My kid is 5’ 8” but there are lots of kids that are smaller that have made it”

    Of course being diminutive will not kill your kid’s chance of climbing the hockey ladder but there is one caveat. If he is not clearly OVERWHELMINGLY AWESOME it most certainly will. And this evaluation of awesomeness doesn’t mean as determined by a blood relative. Look up Andy McDonald and you will see size didn’t matter because….. you guessed it… overwhelmingly awesome.
  4. “Our head coach doesn’t like our kid because he never plays him in key games but we know scouts will see him in the other games.”

    You will be in for a huge disappointment if this is the plan. Every OHL, college and NHL scout will notice who plays the big games AND will have direct conversations with head coaches. If your head coach doesn’t believe in your kid and doesn’t pump his tires to scouts when they inquire, it will be a hockey ladder missing 4 rungs.
  5. “We get private lessons with the best goalie coach in the area and he knows everyone in hockey”

    Again, this will truly be very helpful if your kid warrants the leverage of the goalie coach with their proven ability. I am always very upfront with all my students that I will open every hockey door in the world for them that matches their ability. I have done it successfully many, many times. But I have never made a call for a kid that would not be right for the situation.
  6. “My kid is not a fan of working out but he is ripping it up as a goalie so he will be fine.”

    If your kid is not a self motivated, insane, off ice workout guy, go straight to the trunk of the car and sell their stuff on Craigslist. There is less than zero chance of a kid making it who is not fully vested into off ice training. And THEY have to want it and kick their own butt to the wall. If you have to remind or beg them to get their butt to the gym or trainer, you already know their hockey future.
  7. “Our goalie is a gamer but doesn’t really like (to work at) practice.”

    I watched a goalie playing high school hockey in Pittsburgh last month and he had no idea who I was. He never butterflied or really moved on any pucks. If it hit him fine. If it went in fine. Without question this kid has reached the top rung of his hockey ladder. If your kid can’t/ won’t go full out on every puck in practice and EVERY skating drill he is already done. And telling a kid to work harder in practice is wasted breath. You can’t instill intrinsic motivation. It is like being ugly. That isn’t changing. (This is humor for all the politically correct self-esteem cops)
  8. "I talked to the scout and told him everything he needed to know about my son.  I think he really appreciated it!"

    I often see OHL Scouts at AAA games proudly (peacocking) their team logos. Of course, draft eligible mothers get dolled up for these games and “accidently” hang out near them and gung ho hockey dads take very little time to saddle over and begin the futile small talk that inevitably gets around to their future pro (
    see what I did there?)

    Nothing a parent says or does around a scout can have any POSITIVE effect, but in almost every case causes the opposite effect.

  9. "Johnny's last five coaches didn't seem to think he was an exceptional goalie, but they don't see what I see."
    The process of getting scouted is actually pretty clear cut. Your kid needs to be outside the middle of the bell curve on the right side. PERIOD.

    It is extremely difficult for parents to honestly assess this. To take the momma and papa bear glasses off is as hard as turning away from a Kate Upton commercial.  Your kid’s ability can be evaluated subjectively by an independent expert and objectively by their stats and body metrics. Not by a blood relative.
  10. “Johnny’s dad has tons of money and sponsors / owns the team so he will get scouted for sure.”
    This is an old wives’ tale. These type of “innocent” acting Napoleon fathers are actually very common in junior hockey and AAA circles. They may buy their kid a little more time but at the end of the day REAL hockey is predicated on having legitimate athletes playing at the higher levels. Recently the owner of the F
    lint OHL team had the entire team quit when he fired the coach for not playing his son enough!

    Don’t worry, long term, buying/ sponsoring a team to help their own kid is like the 60-year-old who drives a Ferrari hoping all the girls don’t notice his bald spot. They will.

In conclusion, all this confusion, worry and misinformation about scouting can be abated quite simply.  I can lay this out for you so you can relax and simply watch you kid play.
If they aren’t overwhelmingly awesome they need to systematically fix the individual weaknesses in their game. If they remove all weaknesses, are truly intrinsically motivated and truly want it more than mom and dad they WILL get scouted without you doing one thing.

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